Friday, Jul 12th

A Warm Goodbye for the Scarsdale High School Class of 2024

HatsinairIt wasn’t easy for the Class of 2024 on the way in or on the way out of Scarsdale High School. The untimely beginning of their freshman year in the fall of 2019 coincided with the COVID pandemic when schools were shuttered. The freshman spent their entire first year attending classes on Zoom. Now four years later, they may have experienced one of the hottest graduations in Scarsdale’s history.

kenandDrewAs their siblings, parents, grandparents and friends convened on Butler Field at 5:30 pm on June 20, the thermometer read 90 degrees. Huddled under umbrellas or seeking refuge from the sun in the shadows, fingers were crossed that no one would faint in the heat, which felt more like midday than evening. Those who were concerned about exposure were invited into the air-conditioned auditorium to witness the event on livestream. And crews from the school were on hand with cool jugs of water in a relief tent at the edge of the field.

Around 6:20 pm, out marched Superintendent Andrew Patrick, High School Principal Kenneth Bonamo and Board President Ron Schulhof in shirt sleeves. They had apparently made a “no jacket required” pact and proceeded to the podium to get the show started.

Promptly at 6:30 pm, the high school processional, led by faculty advisors Catherine Comerford and James Tulley began. Stretching from the high school gym across the turf, the 367 grads* strode on to the field to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance played by the school’s symphonic band under the direction of conductor Brain Zeller.

processionalAt that point, all thoughts of the heat were overcome by the excitement of the moment.

Under the direction of Assistant Principal Andrea O’Gorman with the assistance of the guidance department, the ceremony proceeded without a hitch. Speeches were meaningful but smartly timed and somehow the names of 367 seniors were announced, each had their photo taken, received their diploma and threw their hats in the air by 7:45. Each year we can’t help but say, “I don’t know how she does it.”

lineupraybansSchool Board President Ron Schulhof opened the ceremony saying, “…..Today marks an important step as you move forward from your K-12 educational years. Remember that no matter where you go next - in the next years or decades - you will always have your Scarsdale education. Whether in pursuit of opportunities or to overcome challenges; the lessons, skills, and experiences from your time here will always be with you.

I hope that you will also continue to embrace our motto, Non Sibi, and take that sentiment of not for oneself into the world as Scarsdale graduates.

As we honor you and your accomplishment today, we also recognize those who have helped you reach this milestone. Your teachers, counselors, administrators, and coaches. Your parents, family members, friends, and caregivers. I wish to recognize them for all that they have done to support, teach, and serve as important role models.”

Class secretaries and sisters, Ellis and Sydney Geringer thanked their class advisors for their geringergirlsleadership and mentorship, saying they were “generous with their time and energy,” and “never failed to give us the confidence and guidance we needed.”

Faculty Advisor Catherine Comerford and James Tulley told the class, “We must love you. There is no other reason anyone would sit on astro-turf in 50% humidity.”

Looking back they remembered, “You began high school at a time you never imagined. You met with your teachers in virtual office hours. You faced this head on.’

They called on the student to “Be present in this moment. Look around.” Comerford quoted Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey. saying, “One day you knew what you had to do and began.”

They said, “Now it is up to you to take action. Your Scarsdale family will always have their hands on your back. What kind of action? “

-Express gratitude
-Leave behind other voices
-Break away from social media and the phone
Take some time away from people talking at you
-Follow your own voice even if its shaky at times
-Banish negative talk
-Be kind to yourself and others

They said, “What you take away from high school is more than a transcript. Continue to find your passions and find joy as you move forward.”

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Class Vice President Cayden Yang “recognized the amazing staff who has helped us to reach this day.” He said, “None of your hard work goes unnoticed. We cannot thank our teachers enough. They helped us to navigate unprecedented times.” He also recognized the custodians, teachers’ aides and administrative staff.

Class Treasurers Julia Kossakowski and Rhett Needleman introduced Class President Peter Silver. They reflected on student government saying, “We discovered the power of leadership….
It’s the sense of community that we cherish…..We can make a difference.”

President Peter Silver said, “This long-awaited day has finally come -- let’s give ourselves another round of applause for all the hard work that got us here.”

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He said, “I recently opened up a letter I wrote to myself at the start of ninth grade. The letter opens with that very question: Dear Peter, what is your career going to be? Four years later, and I am probably even more uncertain about the answer to that question.”

He continued, “This led me to look back at our entire high school experience. It is safe to say that we really have come a long way from the trenches of Freshman year. We began as awkward, cliquey Freshmen playing Fortnite during zoom class -- pretending that our microphones didn’t work when a teacher called on us-- and now we are leaders and role models within our communities. It is surreal how far each and every one of us has come.”

Discussing their four years he said, “Nothing about our high school experience was standard; nothing about our class is ordinary. We entered high school under “trying circumstances”, to say the least, each of us constrained to a small square on a computer screen, and, when in person, seeing only 1⁄2 our class at a time. But looking back from the finish line, it was all worth it. I still remember that first day that everyone was allowed back in school -- seeing certain faces for the first time in over a year. From that point on, we never looked back.”

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(There were several sets of twins and triplets in the class - pictured above.)

About the prom, he said, “No matter who you were friends with, everyone was dancing and sweating all night long.”

SHS Principal Ken Bonamo completed the program with an inspirational message about finding meaning in your life, engaging in learning and making the world a better place. Read the speech in its entirety here.

Following his remarks, Bonamo turned to Superintendent Drew Patrick to certify the graduates. He “bid them to go forward and serve the common good, “non sibi.” High school juniors assisted with calling out the names of the seniors who proceeded to the podium for a handshake and their degree.

After the ceremony, the grads streamed around the field, locating their loved ones for hugs and photos.

It was heartwarming to see the love and pride for the 107th graduating class from Scarsdale High School.

*There were 370 graduates, however 367 participated in the ceremony.

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